If you've read these commentaries before, you already know I hate smoking. I've said that cigarettes should be banned from restaurants and bars, sided with an ordinance that would ticket parents who smoked in a car while their kids were present, and even went to the streets of downtown Wilmington to show you all the disgusting cigarette butts discarded on the pavement.
Well, hold on to your hats! Today I'm actually going to side with smokers. Did you know the movie industry recently agreed to give an "R" rating to any picture that features a character who smokes? I didn't think it was possible, but the assault on smoking has finally gone too far.
There are certainly movies that show a star lighting up when it adds nothing to plot, storyline or character development; when it's totally unnecessary but, come on, an "R" rating? Are we really saying that the image of smoking is just as bad as foul language, bloody violence and excessive nudity?
Here's a newsflash: You aren't being subjected to second-hand smoke by simply watching someone light up on film. Oh, I know what the other side will say. They'll claim that movies can glamorize smoking and make young kids want to start the nasty habit. Okay! Why stop there? Let's re-rate the classic movies too. From here on you have to be 18 years old to rent "Casablanca", "All about Eve", and even Disney's "One Hundred and One Dalmatians." After all, your kids will be tempted to start smoking after Cruella De Vil lights up.
Look, smoking is a nasty and disgusting habit and, anytime someone smokes around you, you have the right to ask them to put it out. But when we try to focus on smoking by one-dimensional characters on a movie screen, we've gone too far.